Work Life Integration

Core to managing a successful people business is how we retain and keep talent. It is a vast subject area, and I am always trying to keep an eye out for interesting theories and ideas to shape our company policy.

Work life balance is simple in principle, but hard to achieve in practice. Employees need to have a quality of life outside of the office. If they don’t they suffer, and we as employers suffer - absenteeism and high staff turn-over are the least of it.

Barrie Bramley, an expert in talent and innovation, has suggested interesting ideas around work life balance and employee engagement. He believes the way employees approach their relationship with their employers has changed radically.

In the previous century loyalty came from employer / employee relationships that would last a whole career. However, employers and employees today have much shorter relationships. Employees are often asked to work harder with less job security and as a consequence, loyalty has diminished.

This may suit some employers, but for people-based businesses, where long-term client relationships are a priority, we must do the most we can for our valued employees and keep them happy for as long as possible.

According to Barrie a key element to promoting loyalty is recognising how employees manage their work-life integration. Employers can give employees the tools and the flexibility of time and space to manage their work-life integration.

There is little doubt that technology has a key role to play as one of these “tools”. It has allowed us to work harder and faster than we did in the 1970's, 1980’s and 1990’s. I personally value the freedom technology has given me to tackle work on my own terms. I travel 80% of my time, and technology allows me to remain connected to work.

The game-changer was the Blackberry, the first efficient and smart way of taking work home with you. Initially many people resisted the intrusion on work life balance and reserved its use for emergencies. Look how this has shifted.

The Blackberry gives us the flexibility to be always available when out of the office. How many hours of freedom has this device brought us? How many school plays? Early escapes? Needed trips to the dentist or the shops for a last minute present? The trade-off is we no longer have a distinct separation between the workplace and home. The two have integrated.

How many of us now, especially the younger of you, remember a time without this intrusion/benefit?

Employees are savvy to this shift and recognise the tangible freedoms possible from further integration. The smarter employers are already embracing the reality that work and life are co-joined and that modern work places should be structured around the needs of people as much as the business.

In return employees will be empowered with the freedom, flexibility and respect that enables them to work harder, smarter and with more loyalty, than ever before. Qualities all people businesses need from their employees to drive them forward.


Jean M Stephens
Chief Executive Officer